In­tothe WEST

Artist Joe Halko’s work on dis­play at Ox­ford Col­lege

The Covington News - - Sunday living -

Af­ter spending 30 years in Mon­tana, New­ton County na­tive Monty Will­son and his wife, Wendy, de­cided they wanted to share their love for the soar­ing moun­tains, sparkling rivers and abun­dant wildlife of the state with the com­mu­nity of his youth by lend­ing a por­tion of their West­ern art col­lec­tion to The Arts As­so­ci­a­tion in New­ton County and Ox­ford Col­lege.

On dis­play un­til Oct. 24 at the Can­dler Stu­dent Cen­ter, the Im­ages of West­ern Art exhibit is free to the pub­lic and fea­tures 20 pieces from the Will­sons’ large art col­lec­tion which in­cludes paint­ings and sculp­tures.

Will­son, a grad­u­ate of Ox­ford Col­lege and a car­di­ol­o­gist who now lives on Jack­son Lake, said he felt a lit­tle “give back was in or­der” for the col­lege and the com­mu­nity.

Mon­tana sculp­tor Joe Halko is a fa­vorite artist of the Will­sons and his work is on prom­i­nent dis­play in the exhibit. In col­lege Halko stud­ied bi­ol­ogy and anatomy which lends his sculp­tures a re­al­is­tic heft and feel. He was in at­ten­dance at a spe­cial party for the exhibit on Thurs­day evening.

“He’s very true to re­al­ity,” said Monty Will­son of Halko. “You’ll see some artists who try to em­bel­lish na­ture. He’s very true to his sub­ject so that’s the thing that I like best.

Halko said he draws the most in­spi­ra­tion for his sculp­tures, which in­clude sheep, goats, hares and pel­i­cans, from be­ing out in na­ture in Mon­tana. He fre­quently brings a sketch­pad with him when he is out hik­ing, hunt­ing and fish­ing. Most of his sculp­tures though are sculpted from mem­ory.

“I like to spend a lot of time mem­o­riz­ing things. It seems to be freer. You’re not locked into a cer­tain pose,” he said.

Halko said he prefers sculpt­ing wild an­i­mals to do­mes­tic ones. He has been sculpt­ing full-time since 1970 and has been the re­cip­i­ent of ma­jor art com­mis­sions from Regis Uni­ver­sity in Colorado and the Na­tional Gallery in Ire­land.

“I al­ways kind of lean to­wards the sheep and goats. I’ve been do­ing more barn­yard things in the last year — chick­ens, geese and ducks,” he said. “I kind of go in spurts. I just like do­ing fig­ures and ges­tures. If you study an­i­mals enough, they all have in­di­vid­ual looks. You can iden­tify them just by the way they move and the way they’re built.”

Will­son said he is de­lighted with the way the art exhibit turned out. Camille Cotrell, a pro­fes­sor of Art His­tory at Ox­ford, se­lected each of the pieces from the Will­sons 300 plus art col­lec­tion to be fea­tured in the show, which is set up on two dif­fer­ent floors in the stu­dent cen­ter.

“One of the re­ally neat things about see­ing this show is see­ing the same art from a dif­fer­ent set­ting,” he said. “It’s al­most like see­ing some­thing brand new. Camille has done a won­der­ful job.”

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

(Top) Elise Ham­mond feels the con­tours in a bronze sculp­ture ti­tled “All Ears” cre­ated by artist Joe Halko dur­ing a re­cep­tion and West­ern Party held at Ox­ford Col­lege. (Mid­dle) Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent Wal­ter Davis, left, and his wife Kel­lie Davis en­joy con­ver­sa­tion with Mar­garet Halko and fea­tured artist Joe Halko dur­ing the Im­ages of West­ern Art and Artists West­ern Party held in the Can­dler Stu­dent Cen­ter at Ox­ford Col­lege Thurs­day evening. (Bot­tom) Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent Rob Fowler views a bronze Halko sculp­ture called “Against the Wind.”

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